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NRA urges its members to reject GOP Senate candidate Tom Campbell

May 18, 2010 |  6:55 am

The National Rifle Assn. is urging its California members to vote against Republican Senate candidate Tom Campbell “to protect your gun rights and hunting heritage in California.”

The bright orange postcard, which went out over the weekend, faults Campbell for favoring gun show regulations, a waiting period for handgun purchases and restrictions on the sale of semiautomatic assault weapons.

Campbell defended his record on 2nd Amendment issues in an e-mail to a handful of voters who sought clarification from his campaign after receiving the mailing. While lobbying groups often attack candidates who don’t score 100% on their issues, he said, “the truth involves much more than they disclose.”

“Like all other rights protected in our Constitution, the right to keep and bear arms is subject to reasonable limitations that do not alter the fundamental right,” Campbell wrote in the e-mail. “….Reasonable people can reach differing conclusions on where that balance can come out in any given case.”

The NRA has not endorsed a candidate in the GOP Senate race, but the mailing praises Campbell’s opponents, former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina and Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore of Irvine.

“Unlike [California Sen.] Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina is a gun owner, proud NRA member and strong Second Amendment supporter. She would give California’s millions of gun owners a strong voice in the U.S. Senate,” the postcard from the NRA Institute for Legislative Action states. “Chuck DeVore is also a proud supporter of gun rights and had a solid pro-gun voting record in the California State Assembly.”

During a campaign event Monday in Irvine, Fiorina said she could not recall when she became a member of NRA or when she last used a gun.  “I haven’t fired a gun in many, many years — my husband owns many guns, he’s the real gun enthusiast,” she said. “I am a relatively recent member of the NRA. I couldn’t tell you exactly when I joined.” 

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said the organization gave Fiorina an “A” rating based on her answers to their questionnaire and also gave its top rating to DeVore. Because the NRA does not publicly disclose candidates’ questionnaires, the Campbell campaign has said Fiorina should release her answers. 

Arulanandam said he did not have immediate access to Campbell’s voting record and ratings during his five terms in Congress, but said his last rating was an “F.”

In his e-mail to supporters, Campbell defended his positions point by point. He argued it was “not unreasonable” to require a short waiting period for gun buyers “to prevent the buying of a weapon in the heat of an argument.”

Explaining his position on the semiautomatic assault weapons ban, he said he did not favor barring weapons used for sporting purposes. But he added that he was “open” to banning semiautomatic weapons that can be retooled into fully automatic weapons with minor adjustments.

He also took issue with claim in the NRA mailer that he voted against allowing off-duty or retired police officers to carry concealed weapons: “I have refused to override individual county or city decisions regarding concealed carry permits,” he wrote. “The attack piece would lead the reader to believe I want to keep off-duty police officers from concealed carry permits. No -- I would just not override each county’s and city’s judgment as to what works best for them.”

Differences between the candidates on 2nd Amendment issues surfaced during the GOP candidates’ debate in Los Angeles shortly after the Times Square bombing attempt in New York. When asked whether a person on the “no-fly” list should be permitted to buy a gun, Fiorina and DeVore said they should, while Campbell said they should not.

-- Maeve Reston in Los Angeles

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